Chris Young: The 'what might have been' tales have put Sunderland on course for relegation

Patrick van Aanholt
Patrick van Aanholt

The epitaph on Sunderland's tombstone if they are relegated is going to read 'What might have been'.

The list of defeats which should have been draws and draws which should have been wins has gone on and on this season. The latest chapter of this painful novel fell seamlessly into that category.

Let's brush through the list over the last two months alone - Manchester City, West Ham, Southampton, Newcastle, West Brom and now Leicester.

Jack Rodwell has been the culprit in two of those - as at Upton Park, producing a howler of a miss against Leicester when it looked easier to score and earn Sunderland a share of the spoils with a late equaliser.

But there will be no footnote in the record books about the near-misses and hard-luck stories if Sunderland are playing Championship football in August.

The bottom line is Sunderland have won just once in their last 11 games. Once.

That return - from more than a quarter of the season - is particularly poor considering the quality of some of Sunderland's performances during that period.

For an hour yesterday, there was only a cigarette paper between the two teams. For all some of Sunderland's passing was needlessly slack, they matched the Foxes for intensity, physicality and energy.

There weren't an abundance of chances, but there were never going to be, considering Leicester's run of clean sheets and Sam Allardyce's determination to avoid being caught on the counter-attack.

If anything, Sunderland had the better of the opportunities with Fabio Borini twice going close to a priceless breakthrough.

When Jamie Vardy's first goal in seven arrived, it was a sucker-punch, particularly the manner of it with a hopeful punt downfield from Danny Drinkwater deceiving Younes Kaboul, who had been excellent up to that point.

Sunderland became ragged in the search for the equaliser, yet they were forced to chance their arm against a Foxes side who were keen to put men behind the ball and hang onto the advantage.

And for all Sunderland were ugly on the eye in the last half-hour, they still had the opportunities - Rodwell's, one for Patrick van Aanholt when the ball bounced off him from Jeremain Lens and a comical shot from Fabio Borini which looped into his own face.

Those are misses which promise to have dire consequences. Any more in a 'must win' at Norwich next weekend will see Sunderland pay the biggest of prices.